Tuesday, October 25, 2016

YouTube armchair economists are pretty bad too

It was bad enough a few days ago when I talked about YouTube suggesting ads for cosmetic dental services I didn't want. But - objectively speaking - the right-wing armchair economists who people YouTube are even worse, if you can believe that. I'd rather have one of those YouTube dentists rip out my teeth and glue them back in all wrong (as Bob Dornan would say) than be subjected to any more classist and racist lies. (It's not like the dental ads appeal to anyone of average economic means, but that's another matter.)

In the past few days, when I log on to YouPube, the website has "recommended" videos that purport to show someone abusing government assistance or spread outright lies about this subject. I have no problem with going after someone who actually abuses these programs - but that's not really what's going on in these clips.

These videos are often posted by people who see someone at the supermarket using either a food benefits card or WIC to buy, you know, food. If the person receiving assistance is wearing a shirt that looks like it's less than 5 years old, the filmer jumps to the conclusion that they don't need benefits and that they're just someone gaming the system. In one of these videos, the filmer claims a woman using WIC is covered with tattoos - though the clip reveals no tattoos. "I've had it," the filmer whines.

I don't even click on most of these videos - because the folks who uploaded some of them include a racist caption. Why is YouTube "recommending" videos that are accompanied by a racist description?

And if someone has a tattoo, don't you think it's possible it could be an amateur tat? The cost of an amateur tattoo can be expressed in cents, not dollars. It's almost free. I know it's not a necessity for someone to get a tattoo, but at least it's art. Cosmetic dentistry is vanity, not art. If you're going to criticize someone for a tattoo that didn't cost anything and isn't even big enough to show up on video, it's only fair to also criticize some rich Trump follower who squanders $50,000 on cosmetic dentistry. I think I'm pretty safe from being accused of wasting any money on that. Maybe I'll loiter outside a cosmetic dental practice and film all the pampered yuppies walking in and out.

When we see classist or racist garbage on YouTube, it may be best to just report it under YouTube's terms of service. These videos contribute nothing positive.

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